Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore international buyer–supplier relationships in an emerging developing country context. The study examines a number of factors derived from internationalization process (IP) theory and their impacts in a novel research setting. The relational variables of trust and commitment, and their drivers, are integrated into a model examining importers’ perspectives of their supplier relationships. Design/methodology/approach: This study applied a sequential methodological approach. Initially, a conceptual framework was developed from qualitative research and then quantitatively validated using structural equation modeling (SEM). The data for this study were collected conducting in-depth interviews and survey questionnaires. For empirical validation, the SEM technique was applied to assess the proposed model.
Findings: Importing firm managers perceived that the commitment of their suppliers bolstered their trust in the relationship, this contrasts with the conventional contention of a reverse relationship. The findings confirm cultural similarity facilitates communication, leading to increased knowledge and experience of importers, thereby contributing to an enhanced commitment to build trust in the relationship.
Practical implications: The conceptual framework developed in this study provides a direction to manage and enhance understanding of IP and relationship outcome. The findings have strategic implications for practicing managers in developing and supporting their importer–foreign supplier relationships.
Originality/value: This study is unique in assessing as well as validating key constructs of IP theory in an international exchange (importer–supplier) relationship. The study offers completely a new insight in relation to applying IP theory’s relational perspectives.